The pattern presented itself over and over last season, a Groundhog Day that couldn't be escaped by the Lakers once the injuries and ineffectiveness began to set in.
Win a few, lose a few. Beat San Antonio, but lose to Charlotte.
The injuries have continued this season, but the tendency to slide after success has not.
Case in point: After an impressive 130-124 victory Wednesday at Phoenix, the Lakers put away an undermanned Clippers team, 113-95, Saturday night at Staples Center.
"Last year, we'd win a couple and relax," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "This team has not given that sense of satisfaction with what they've accomplished. I think that's been a real vital sign for them, that they're still hungry and playing well."
The Lakers' main challenge this week might be to stay awake. Their next four games are against teams that wouldn't make the playoffs today -- Seattle, Miami and Portland twice.
They play tonight in Seattle, a back-to-back situation that would be cause for distress in recent seasons, but not so much anymore.
The Lakers are 8-4 in the second night of back-to-back sets after going 8-9 last season and 8-11 in 2005-06.
Jackson was irritated earlier this season when the Lakers dispensed a pair of miserable efforts on the second night of back-to-backs -- a 110-103 loss in Milwaukee on Nov. 21 and a 120-96 drubbing by Utah when the Jazz played without two starters on Nov. 30.
His demeanor is different now when asked about the Lakers' recent success in similar situations. Besides Wednesday's win in Phoenix, the Lakers have defeated New Orleans, Denver and Toronto among others on the second night of back-to-backs.
"I think it's the depth that gives the players that are carrying the heavy load of minutes a space to rest, and not [put] as much pressure on them to perform with the high intensity level for the duration they usually do," Jackson said. "That's helped us out a lot."
Vladimir Radmanovic sustained a strained right calf in the first quarter against the Clippers and did not return. His status was unknown for tonight's game against Seattle. . . . Saturday marked only the second time the Lakers, Clippers and the NHL's Kings played at Staples Center on the same day. The teams also played at home on Dec. 2, 2006. Staples Center opened in October 1999.
at Seattle, 6, Channel 9
Site -- Key Arena.
Radio -- 570; 1330.
Records -- Lakers 38-17, SuperSonics 15-39.
Record vs. Sonics -- 2-0.
Update -- Only Miami and Minnesota have fewer home victories than Seattle, which is 10-18 at KeyArena. The Sonics have fared better overall in recent weeks, going 6-4 after losing 14 in a row. They dealt two veterans before last Thursday's trade deadline, sending center-forward Kurt Thomas to San Antonio and forward Wally Szczerbiak to Cleveland.